Learning about one’s history and culture can be a challenging task, especially when there are few resources to utilize.
The White Hair Memorial Learning Center is treasure trove of Osage genealogical and historical information. The center, located between the towns of Hominy and Ralston, is in fact a small white house that used to belong to the late Lillie Morrell Burkart. After her death it was converted into a learning center and contains her research collections, Osage regalia, and information from her travels overseas, said the center’s director Renae Brumley.
“We also have classes to teach Osage ribbon work and Osage yarn work from time to time,” Brumley said. “We used to host a lot of different things at the center, like Language classes and people had meetings here, but that doesn’t happen much anymore.”
Burkhart was a descendent of Chief White Hair. When she died she left the bulk of her financial estate and her home in trust, set up with the desire it be used as a memorial for Chief White Hair, Brumley said.
The Oklahoma Historical Society as the trust administrator, and although it is not an actual museum it has a museum-like atmosphere. The center has Burkhart’s extensive collection of Osage cultural items and documentary items, however due to preservation concerns, most of her items are stored and not able to be viewed publicly, except on occasion when they are displayed for a short time, Brumley said. The most sensitive items have been photographed and can be viewed in photo albums at the center.
“The Blanche Garrison papers are tons of information on my family,” said LuAnne Bratton, an Osage researcher. “I come once a month from Tulsa. I am very glad this is available, it is great.”
The center still has the original bathrooms of the home and visitors can walk through the house and view photographs of what the house used to look like when Burkhart lived there.
The Library is the only room that was added on to the original house, the rest of it is as Burkhart left it, minus a few repairs, Brumley said.
The library holds books and documents helpful for those interested in genealogy and the history and culture of the Osage people. The late Louis F. Burns and his wife Ruth B. Burns provided a large amount of the library. They had an extensive collection consisting of books, periodicals, newspapers, maps and audio-visuals that contain information to the Osages, Brumley said. Their research contains information on the migration westward of the Burns and Blake families and their extended families.
The library has received donations from various families on their genealogy research. The center accepts and encourages Osage families to bring a copy of their genealogy research to add to the library.
Brumley said by adding additional family genealogies to the collection it helps all Osages by providing more sources for visitors to use. It also helps to back up family research in case it gets lost or damaged.
The memorial functions strictly through the Burkhart estate, however, donations are appreciated. The center is open Monday through Friday and on Saturday by appointments only.
To get more information or schedule a visit, call (918) 538-2417.
Original Publish Date: 2015-08-18 00:00:00